On the trail of the missing from K2

John Snorri Sigurjonsson, Juan Pablo Mohr and Muhammad Ali Sadpara (from left)

Missing, but unforgotten. Five months ago, Pakistani Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Icelander John Snorri Sigurjonsson and Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr had not return from their winter summit attempt on K2. After several unsuccessful aerial searches, the three climbers had been declared dead, 13 days after setting out.

Two weeks ago, Sigurjonsson’s family and friends said goodbye to John Snorri with a church service in Iceland.

Search for the father

Elia Saikaly, Sajid Ali and Pemba Kaji Sherpa (from left) search for the missing climbers

The last few months have been “very challenging,” Muhammad’s son Sajid Ali Sadpara wrote on Instagram a few days ago. “Life in civilisation isn’t simple for a mountaineer. I have started feeling alive as soon as I have been back to the mountains.”

Together with Canadian mountaineer and filmmaker Elia Saikaly and Nepalese climber Pasang Kaji Sherpa, Sajid plans to search for traces of his father and the two other missing men in the summit zone of K2. Among others, they are supported by Fazal Ali, a Pakistani mountaineer who has already scaled K2 three times.

“I just couldn’t do nothing”

K2
The 8,611-meter-high K2 in the Karakoram (in 2004)

“I know my father is not alive anymore but I want to go to K2 and find out what happened to him,” said 22-year-old Sajid, who had scaled K2 in 2019 and also set out for the winter summit attempt six months ago. Because his oxygen regulator was not working properly, Sajid had turned back on the advice of his father.

Elia Saikaly and Pasang Kaji Sherpa had also originally wanted to go up to film the summit push, but had not made it past Camp 3 at 7,300 meters due to an oxygen mix-up.

“The truth is: I just couldn’t do nothing,” Elia wrote on Instagram about his motivation to return now to K2. “These are our friends. These were our teammates.”

Tamara Lunger wants to continue Mohr’s project

Tamara Lunger and Juan Pablo Mohr (in January)
Tamara Lunger (l.) with Juan Pablo Mohr (in January)

For South Tyrolean climber Tamara Lunger, too, the tragedy of last winter on K2 has not yet been dealt with. The 35-year-old, who wanted to climb the second highest mountain on earth without oxygen, had formed a two-person team during her expedition with Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr.

She, too, had turned back at Camp 3. “What could have been a day of great joy, was instead the day that changed everything, bringing with it really difficult moments, and pain and sadness,” Tamara wrote on Instagram. “It feels like yesterday and at the same time it feels like a lifetime.”

Tamara will return to Pakistan in the coming days to continue a cause close to Juan Pablo’s heart, the “Climbing for a Reason” project in northern Pakistan. Mohr had wanted to teach children in the Shigar Valley how to climb mountains. “I’m going back with joy and fear at the same time,” said Tamara Lunger before heading to Pakistan, “but above all I’m going back with an open heart and a mission.”